Feats of Engineering

It seems like every time we turn around, there's another new smartphone or robotic butler pouring coffee in our laps. On Uncertain Principles, the engineering breakthroughs du jour are "technical advances in ion trap quantum computing." Chad Orzel explains, "previous experiments have used optical frequencies to manipulate the states of the ions, using light from very complicated laser systems." Such lasers (though effective) are unwieldy, and researchers are now using simple microwaves to perform the same functions. This promises quantum computers on a chip—eventually. Meanwhile, on the USA Science and Engineering Festival blog, Kandy Collins profiles a researcher who used nanoparticles "to build synthetic platelets of biodegradable polymers which are designed to link with the body's natural platelets to slow or stop bleeding faster after injury." And on The Weizmann Wave, scientists are fabricating some of the straightest nanowires ever by depositing molecules of gallium nitride into the grooves of an artificial sapphire surface. Professor Ernesto Joselevich says since "control of structure and miniaturization go hand in hand in the semiconductor industry, this method could well become standard within the decade."

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